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Marcus - Interview 38

Age at interview: 38
Brief Outline: Marcus's fiancée, Louise, was murdered in 1987. Marcus was shocked and his life was shattered. He found help through friends, family, the police, psychiatrists and art therapy. Today he finds help by helping others who have been bereaved in this way.
Background: Marcus is a Property portfolio manager. He is single. Ethnic background/nationality: White British.

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Marcus’s fiancée, Louise, was murdered in 1987. She was brutally stabbed to death by a man who had recently come out of jail. Marcus met the murderer in a bar and during the next three days they became friends. The man offered Marcus some employment and so Marcus and Louise invited him to their home for dinner.
 
During the evening Marcus had to leave the house to make a phone call. They did not have mobile phones and there wasn’t a phone in the house. The man offering employment had asked Marcus to make the phone call. He claimed that he had an injury to his leg and could not walk without pain. While Marcus was out of the house the man they had befriended stabbed Louise to death. Marcus soon realised that he had been given a false phone number. He became alarmed and quickly returned home.
 
The murder was seen by a woman who lived opposite the house. Marcus thinks that she called the police, because as he left the phone box and returned home he saw the lights of the police cars. Marcus was arrested as a possible suspect and kept in custody for a short while, but the murderer was soon caught and Marcus was informed that Louise had died. This was shocking news and Marcus found it hard to believe it was true. Later he had to identify Louise’s body.
 
Louise’s funeral was held in a Catholic church. About 400 people attended the service. Louise was cremated and her ashes were buried in a London cemetery.
 
The man who killed Louise was charged in a magistrate’s court and then committed to trial at the Old Bailey. The trial was very short, about 18 minutes, because the man admitted he was guilty of the murder. He was sentence to life in prison.
 
During this terrible time Marcus was supported by family and friends. The police detectives were also very supportive and kept Marcus informed. They visited Marcus almost every night for weeks. Marcus was devastated by Louise’s death. His mental health suffered and he became very depressed, drank too much alcohol, and at times became suicidal. He thinks he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was treated by a psychiatrist. Marcus found some help by attending art therapy. A woman from Cruse visited once, but told Marcus that she would have to see him in the police station in future, because he was a man living alone. Marcus decided that he did not want to see her again.
 
Marcus still feels very sad and angry at times. He finds help by helping others who have been bereaved by murder or manslaughter. A year ago he was invited to join a workshop called ‘Escaping Victimhood’. This was a four day residential workshop for those bereaved by gun or knife crime. Marcus found the workshop very helpful. Similar workshops are open to others and they are run by the Capability Company.
 
Marcus was interviewed in 2009.
 

Marcus' fiancée, Louise, was stabbed by a man who pretended to offer Marcus work. Initially...

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Yes. Just twenty-two years ago my fiancée was brutally stabbed to death in south London. And the way that came about I actually met a man who offered me a gainful employment, at the time I was unemployment. And we decided to proceed with me taking the job he gave me. And over the next two to three days we became, I guess friends. Little did I know that the time that the person I’d met had only recently been released from a jail in Scotland, for cutting somebody’s throat. Having served his time, having been released, he’d only been out of jail six weeks. And he came to London with a view; so I’m told by the police etcetera, that he came to London with a view to kill somebody to go back to jail. I met him in a bar. We became friends. And in the next three days, we decided to invite him to our home for dinner. And on that particular evening, he asked me to make a phone call. In those days, it was 1987…mobile phones were built like a brick. And nobody had any because you couldn’t afford them.
 
And also at the time we’d just moved to our new house and we didn’t, we weren’t on the phone. So I had to go to use a red phone box, which I did. I didn’t realise at the time, he gave me a false name and false number to ring. And it was that point in, in, in the evening when I tried ringing the person he gave me the phone number for, I realised something was drastically wrong. And by the time I reached the end of my street, I, all I could see was police lights and cars trained on what I thought was my neighbour’s house. In actual fact it was mine. And as I ran jumping fences and fences because I didn’t know what was going on, I was panicking. And the nearer and nearer I got, I realised that it was my, my house. And I rapidly approached the door and was knocked back the police and pinned to the ground.
 
How awful.
 
And at that point I was screaming, I didn’t know what had gone on. And all the neighbours were out in the streets. And I was taken into the back of a police car and arrested at that point. It, it was a matter of minutes.
 
And it was during… on the, the enormous journey back from the property in south London to the nearest police station, we were doing over a hundred miles an hour. And on the radio, the police radio, they said, “Slow down it’s ok, we’ve, we’ve got the man”. There was a lot more stronger words were said than that.
 
But they said, “Slow down we’ve already got him but we’ve got to keep Marcus in custody”.
 
So you were a suspect to start with?
 
Yes I was charged.
 
But it wasn’t until we got back to the police station, about an hour and half later, that … I was stripped and given a paper suit. I still… nobody’s…nobody told me why. And I was asking what had happened all the time. And they said, “We can’t tell you”. And eventually they got me into a room, out of the cell and they said, “We got some bad news for you, your wife’s dead”. And I said, “Well that’s ok because I’m not married”. But we both wore wedding rings because we couldn’t afford to get married. So we both wore wedding rings and pretended. And he said, he gave my fiancé’s name and he just said, “She died an hour ago”.
 
And I said, “She can’t be dead because I only left her an hour ago”.
 
So I was in total shock. And then I was sedated by the police surgeon. And I woke up the next morning thinking it was a bad dream.
 

After Marcus' fiancée died other people found it hard to talk to him because they were unsure how...

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My concentration… I don’t remember… I wasn’t able to do very much, at the time after her death. I remember sort of creating a shrine about a fireplace for her. And I’m… I can quite honestly say that I had many psychological problems in those days. Sleeping was one. Getting out of bed in particular was a problem. Getting into bed was another one because she’d… you don’t want to sleep because you’re scared of sleeping. And then when it’s… your whole body clock is totally gone ga- ga. And the only way of communicating with the outside world for me was going down to the local pub to see what was left of my friends, who found it extremely difficult being with me and talking to me. The only way they could communicate to me was by buying me a drink. And just sitting and then and being together, I guess. But of course the old adage is that you do it often enough, you get so used to it, which developed a problem for me later in life, which I’ve now got over.
 
But at the time, for a least two or three years, it was the only place I could go where I could meet anybody to talk to was down a pub. So life was very difficult.
 
How did your friends react to what had happened, apart from inviting to the pub for a drink?
 
They were… they were coping with me. That was the only way I can say it. There was one lady in particular and her daughter who are still… my great friends to this day. They still find it hard, being with me. A lot of people do. It’s just a difficult, it’s difficult to be around. If, if it’s not happened to you, it’s difficult for you to be around somebody like me. So a lot of the people I assist now in, in the work that I do, we’re all very, very… well we are all very similar people. But we’ve all suffered bereavement through murder or manslaughter. So we tend to be… sort of group ourselves together I suppose. We all have a similar sort of feeling.
 
You said people sometimes even now find it difficult to be with you, why is that?
 
I think to answer that question, they find it difficult to be with me because sometimes they’re not quite sure if they say the wrong thing how I’m going to react. But luckily enough I have a… I still maintain a sense of humour. So I can always say that look it’s, it’s ok to talk about this. I’m ok answering any questions.
 
Right.
 
But occasionally your new friends they just shy away from it and I sense it as well. And I say, “Look it’s ok you say it, I don’t mind. We can talk about this”. I mean talking is a great, a great help. And I do talk about my experiences to a lot of people now.  
 

Marcus attended the programme Escaping Victimhood, an intense course but very uplifting and very...

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Only a year ago I was invited onto course called, ‘Escaping Victimhood’, which I’m sure you’ll find the details on the website at the end of this interview. But I found that an absolute… for me it was like getting into a jet aircraft, it took me from where I am now into the future. And the support and help from the professionals on that course are second to none. And at the moment I… I am going to represent ‘Escaping Victimhood’ in the future. It’s a positive course, open to all. Unfortunately it needs government backing. And there are only twenty-four places as far as I know available in one year. And I was fortunate enough to be one of them a year ago.
 
Is that a day course?
 
No it’s a residential course, which lasts three to four days.
 
And one of which is taking place in London very shortly. It’s a very positive course for people bereaved by murder and manslaughter, and one that should be available to a lot of people. But I think by clicking on, onto the website you’ll be able to find more information about this.
 
And then people can apply to go onto it?
 
Yes they can.
 
Do you want to just sum up what actually happens during those four days?
 
During the four days on the ‘Escaping Victimhood’ workshop, they take you from where you now, through various processes of your own psychology, and the circumstances which have led you to go on that course.
 
You get one to one attention?
 
Yes. It’s a group course but also one, one to one. It’s a very intense course, but also very relaxing and very uplifting.
 
Are they professional people running it?
 
They’re, they are very professional.
 
Are they psychologists, psychiatrists?
 
Psychologists. We have an expert on posttraumatic stress disorder there. And all the, the support network of ‘Escaping Victimhood’ in my opinion is second to none.
 
And it really is worth pursuing if you are the unfortunate person to be like me who is a victim of murder or manslaughter.
 
Do they keep in touch with you afterwards or is it just a one of?
 
Yes. Afterwards there is a follow up weekend, which is to find out… there’s a number of weeks, how you’ve progressed after your workshop. And the twelve people on that course I’m still very friendly with, all the people. And very recently we spent a weekend together. So it’s a very uplifting, very bonding sort of course.
 

Every year Marcus attends a service in St. Martin’s in the Fields for those bereaved by murder...

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I believe you go to the service that’s held every year in St Martin’s in the Fields, do you want to say a little bit about that?
 
Oh yes. The yearly service in Trafalgar Square at in St Martin’s in the Fields I think is, it’s the pinnacle day of the, of my year. It’s something I’ve been going to for a number of years now, which is organised by Victims Voice. And quite a lot of my friends are involved in that. And it’s just a fantastic meeting of hundreds of people and members of families who are bereaved by murder and manslaughter. And last year I had the good fortune to be allowed to read and hopefully this year I’ll be allowed to read as well. It just is… it’s a meeting of like-minded people. And the environment and the setting of St Marin’s in the Fields church…
 
…it couldn’t be more perfect. You’re in the centre of the universe. You’re in Trafalgar Square. It’s two weeks before Christmas. If it snowed it would be absolutely amazing. And I remember a couple of years ago, towards the end of the service, they played ‘My Heart will go on’, which absolutely brought everybody floods of tears. But in a, I guess in a good way, not a, a disturbing way. So that service for me is a perfect end always to my year. And it and it gives me hope for the next year.
 
Not only for myself, but for other people. So it it’s a great healing service. It’s not just we’re going to church to pray for lost ones, it really is a nurturing… it’s a growth. It’s a growing period. In my mind it is anyway.  
 

Marcus has been involved in several charities that help people bereaved through murder and...

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I’m involved in a number of charities that do help bereaved people through murder and manslaughter. And a lot of what I do is giving support is …in the only way I can because having gone through that experience myself, I can, see the, you know in somebody else or be it the circumstances of the murder or manslaughter are always different.
 
You still have that same gut feeling that you’re able to share with somebody else. And even though I’m there to hopefully help them as well, but I give them something and they also give something back to me. It’s a two way process.
 
It’s not me going to be the all helping person. I give them some advice or help. But they always reflect back to me and give me a lot of feedback and help.
 
So it’s a two way process. So it’s almost like a double healing situation I guess.
 
That’s what I get from it. But it’s, it’s always increasing, murder increasing, it’s not decreasing. So the charity work that I do is ever increasing.
 
And you know the government should realise that and support the charities more than they do.
 

Marcus believes that doctors prescribe antidepressants and sleeping pills too readily; they need...

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Have you got any message for professional such as the doctors? 
 
Yeah I think doctors in particular, with the police moving on to help victims who are left behind, I think in a lot of cases the doctors could do more. Rather than looking at you and treating you with say medication and saying that you’ve got depression because of these circumstances, I think they could do a lot more possible training in PTSD, post, post traumatic stress disorder and the effects of that. I think therein lies the future power for the doctor, rather than just giving you antidepressants and sleeping pills. And I think the way forward would be to, if it’s possible for them to do a certain training, to help with bereaved victims in, in a lot of bereavement cases.  
 
 
 

Marcus was surprised that the case at the Old Bailey was over so quickly. The man, who murdered...

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What happened, the guy who did this was obviously arrested on the same night. And we went to a magistrate’s court where the charge was read out. I was also in court that day to witness this. The charge was read out, and he admitted to the charge. And then the case was put back to a trial at the Old Bailey; most murders within the London and central London area are committed to the Old Bailey.
 
Do you want to say a little bit about the trial and your time in court …

 

Yes. Yes sure. It, it seems ironic looking back for me now because the trial was committed to the Old Bailey in November and it was Friday the 13th . It was Court 13 and everything in that day was like a 13. And it just feels very strange when I look back on, on that time. And I was told prior to going in, into the Old Bailey that it could be quite a quick trial, which annoyed me because I really wanted to … I wanted to be part of the process. And I wanted to ask some questions. But in those days it’s never … it never was allowed.

 

And to this day it, it goes down as one of the quickest trials of the Old Bailey in history. I think we’re in the there for about eighteen minutes, seventeen or eighteen minutes. The trial… … the charge was read out. And the person admitted to murder instantly. We were told to sit down. And then as the detective at the time said, “The story was read out”. In other words, the evidence was read out.

 

Which is the story of what happened on that fateful night. And the judge without even … he didn’t … I think at the time they allowed some … his barrister to say something. And then in the end, he said, “Right that’s it, sit down”. The guy got up in the dock and he committed him to life imprisonment.

 

And within seconds after that he banged his gravel and “Take him down”. And that was the last I ever saw of him.  
 

Marcus visits the cemetery at least twice a year and remembers his fiancée. Nearby there is a...

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And her ashes scattered or were they buried?

No they’re buried and they’re buried in a (place name) cemetery. And I go there at least twice a year. And that’s on the anniversary of her death, on the 29th of April, and I normally go on Christmas Eve every year as well. And other times if I’m in (place name), I normally make the effort to go and stand there for a few minutes and a have a quick chat.

Is there anything to mark the place where she’s buried

There is indeed, yes, she’s got a headstone. She had her own headstone temporary one, because it’s a family plot. She’s now on the list of people who are there as well.

And I go see her and quite often I go… just as a funny enough… the cemetery is, is quite a big one. And on the way out, right on the corner is a tiny pub and I always go in there for a very small glass of wine and raise it to her memory. 

 

Years ago Marcus found the anniversary of his fiancée's death heartbreaking. Now he goes to the...

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It’ll soon be the anniversary of your fiancée’s death, are anniversaries particular difficult times?
 
Yes. I find the build up to the anniversary which is the 29th of April, it tends to start building round about now, and it gets more intense as it gets nearer and nearer. Many years ago, it used to be so difficult it was heart breaking. Whereas I think at the moment it’s more uplifting for me to be able to celebrate it and her life, rather than go in a commiserating sort of way, and morbid sort of way. Now I go, I wouldn’t say I go hoppity skippity down the road, but I go in, in a much more positive frame of mind to lay my flowers, have my few words and then leave.
 
Where as many years ago, I found it almost impossible to be there.
 
That’s the cemetery?
 
Yes. Whereas now I go quite easily, and lay my flowers and say whatever I have to say and come away.
 
And I do that at the end of April and if I’m in London and am able to go then I’ll go when, when I can. But I always go on the 29th of April and Christmas Eve.
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